The Brain’s Camera. Optimal Algorithms for Wiring the Eye to the Brain Shape How We See
The problem of sending information at long distances, without significant attenuation and at a low cost, is common to both artificial and natural environments. In the brain, a widespread strategy to solve the cost-efficiency trade off in long distance communication is the presence of convergent pathways, or bottlenecks. In the visual system, for example, to preserve resolution, information is acquired by a first layer with a large number of neurons (the photoreceptors in the retina) and then compressed into a much smaller number of units in the output layer (the retinal ganglion cells), to send that information to the brain at the lowest possible metabolic cost. Recently, we found experimental evidence for an optimal compression-decompression algorithm in the early visual pathway that reproduces the strategies used in digital image processing. Our results bear strong consequences for our current understanding of the development and function of the visual thalamus and cortex.
KeywordsReceptive Field Retinal Ganglion Cell Lateral Geniculate Nucleus Relay Cell Retinal Axon